ethics, Ex, narcissists, social media

The most excellent empress of excessive effrontery and extravagance…

All week, I’ve wondered if or when there will be a jubilant announcement from Ex regarding the latest addition to the family. So far, not a peep has emanated from Ex’s fingers to her keyboard about her new grandson. I find this to be unusual behavior for her. However, there is one thing she has been doing this week that is not unusual or unexpected at all…

A few days ago, I wrote a post about how Ex was, once again, begging for money from celebrities and strangers, ostensibly to pay for a new fence for her son, who has severe autism and apparently needs to be confined when he goes outside. She publicly posted a link on Twitter to a crowdfunding attempt, her second since early spring. In her pitch for funds, she wrote this:

Sounds like a pretty desperate situation, right? I know my heart is breaking.

It seems to me that if a crowdfund is necessary to raise thousands of dollars to erect a secure fence, one might also think that there isn’t room in the budget for extraneous stuff, like autographed books written by actors. And if one who begs for money does feel the need to make a purchase that might seem like an unnecessary extravagance to other people, one might hope they’d want to keep that purchase under their hat, so to speak. I mean, it’s in pretty poor taste to beg for money for a fence, but then gleefully cheer about the prospect of buying something that isn’t essential for living. But Ex isn’t like most people. Basic consideration and rules that might apply to other people, don’t apply to her. I should not have been surprised when I saw this on her Twitter feed…

According to her crowdfunding pitch, Ex’s household subsists on just one stream of income. She claims that she lives “paycheck to paycheck”, and is begging strangers to contribute $6000 for a fence… yet she has about $50 to spend on an autographed book. What should we conclude about this?

Actually, I don’t have to draw any new conclusions. I know that Ex will stoop to incredibly low levels to get her endless wants and needs satisfied at other people’s expense. She is not above shaming people, either, even when they are her own minor children who genuinely need something from her. For example, we have heard about how, when Bill’s younger daughter needed an orthopedic device for a condition affecting her feet, Ex would endlessly complain about how expensive it was. She would make a huge deal about having to spend money on her oldest three children, even though Bill was giving her $2550 a month in child support, and the children could have had full medical coverage through the military. Meanwhile, she also did things like force them to give up things they needed so that she would look kind and generous to other people– strangers, even.

As I was telling Bill about this discovery yesterday, he said he was reminded about something that happened soon after their divorce. Bill had gone to Arizona to see his kids. This was before she launched her extreme parental alienation campaign that would keep them apart for over fifteen years. At the time, Bill lived on about $600 a month, because he was giving Ex $2550 a month, plus paying the mortgage on their house in Arkansas, which she eventually let go into foreclosure after tenants stole the toilet out of it.

Ex had asked Bill about palm pilots, which were all the rage at the time. She said she might get one for her eldest son, a product of her first marriage. Bill happened to own an inexpensive Handspring Visor. He showed it to her, and said it cost about $125. He used it for work purposes.

Ex said, “So you can spend $125 on gadgets, but you can’t send more money for your children?”

I know I shouldn’t have been surprised or outraged. This is very normal behavior for her. Still, when I remember that back in those days, Bill lived alone in a drafty, sparsely furnished apartment… his main source of entertainment was nightly chats with me on Yahoo! Messenger and reading the stories I used to write. His one saving grace was that his job required him to travel a lot, so he would get per diem money. He never used all of the money he was given for food, so he was able to use that for extra things, like a cheap palm pilot. But that wasn’t enough for Ex. She wanted EVERYTHING. And yes, it does outrage me that she has the nerve to demand everything, as she simultaneously claims to be kind, generous, and wonderful… but only to strangers.

It would have been one thing if Ex actually spent the money on the children, but years of experience and observation tell us that she rarely did that. When they had needs, she would shame them. Or she would use them to prop up her own image. In fact, we heard a story about how she once made Bill’s daughters give up one of their beds to a family in their church. She wanted the family–strangers to her– to think of her as a good, generous person. Meanwhile, her daughters were the ones making the actual sacrifice. Because God knows, she wouldn’t be giving up her bed.

The other day, I happened to listen to Dr. Les Carter’s recent video about what happens when a narcissist realizes their target has lost interest. I like most of his videos about narcissism, but this one really resonated with me. I could practically hear the alarm bells going off. I would recommend his channel to anyone dealing with a self-centered, narcissistic, dishonest asshole in their lives. But this video is particularly good.

A great video… very revelatory and insightful.

As for Ex and her shenanigans… I know it’s not my business, and while I would love to call her out directly, I won’t be doing that. There’s no point in doing that, because she won’t stop. All that calling her out might accomplish is to potentially drive her behavior a bit further underground for awhile. Naturally, she would eventually reappear, because she thrives on attention and notoriety. She wants strangers to think highly of her. Those who really know her and can see through her bullshit can go pound sand.

As long as Ex doesn’t approach Bill’s family again, I guess it doesn’t matter if other people fall for her bullshit. Thankfully, at this point, it doesn’t appear that anyone has taken the bait. The crowdfund is still sitting at zero. When her efforts to grift inevitably fail again, she’ll probably engage in another familiar behavior– that of blame shifting. Les Carter talked about that, too…

It’s always someone else’s fault.

I actually find Ex to be a fascinating person. Although I have run into some pretty obnoxious, self-serving, narcissistic individuals in my time, she is one of the most extreme examples. I continue to be stunned by her complete lack of shame and endless gall. It really amazes me. For the longest time, I went to great lengths not to look at what she was doing, because I didn’t want to get angry or have her antics upset me in any way. But now that I do pay attention to her, I’ve genuinely found myself intrigued by her nerve. At the same time, I’m so glad Bill is no longer married to her, and I’m glad at least younger daughter got away from her, and hopefully, she’ll keep her kids away from Ex, too.

I suspect the reason Ex hasn’t boasted about her newest grandson is because she hasn’t yet been told about him. And honestly, I don’t blame younger daughter for that, if that’s the situation.

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social media

“Shame, shame… everybody knows your name!” When people of today, shame others over events from the past…

Back in the 80s, I used to love watching sitcoms on television. One of my favorites from those days was Alice, which, over several years, starred Linda Lavin, Vic Tayback, Beth Howland, Polly Holliday, Diane Ladd, and Celia Weston. A few years ago, I downloaded the entire series and watched all of the episodes. As I was watching the show, I had forgotten that Alice, along with many other TV shows from that era, wasn’t always “politically correct” by today’s standards.

I remember one episode featured cast members from The Dukes of Hazzard, which was a huge hit in the early 80s. I was still a child in the 80s, and I grew up in southern Virginia, where people proudly displayed Confederate battle flags. Consequently, when Alice originally aired in the 80s, I wasn’t shocked when an episode featured Boss Hogg and Enos, of The Dukes of Hazzard. Mel Sharples (Tayback), crotchety owner of Mel’s Diner, welcomed them by putting little Confederate battle flags on all the tables. In those days, seeing that flag was pretty common and even considered “normal”, especially in the South. I was about ten years old, anyway, and at that time, didn’t know anything about racism, or any of the issues surrounding that topic.

Yes, Enos and Boss Hogg visited Mel’s Diner.

I would later learn much more about racism, and why the Confederate flag is so offensive to many people, but I’m probably still pretty ignorant about the subject. What I know is mostly based on book learning and conversations I’ve had with people of color. I did happen to live in South Carolina when the Confederate flag was finally taken down from the top of the Statehouse dome. Because I was living on the campus at the University of South Carolina, I could actually see the flag come down from my apartment, as it was also being televised on CNN. The flag was moved to the Statehouse grounds, where it was guarded by a state trooper for some time. I believe the powers that be in South Carolina eventually removed the battle flag from the Statehouse grounds altogether, although I can’t swear to it, since I haven’t been in Columbia in years.

This certainly wouldn’t fly today… but it was considered perfectly fine in the 80s. We can’t change that by shaming people.

One thing I remember from Alice was that the character of Vera, played by Beth Howland, was famously ditzy, “dinghy”, and batty. One of Vera’s best remembered taglines was “shame, shame… everybody knows your name!” She would always say it with the appropriate level of disgust and disdain, which usually got a laugh from the studio audience. That old line is in my head this morning, as I reflect upon a shaming comment I received this morning from a complete stranger. It’s actually one of a few unpleasant interactions I’ve had with complete strangers on Facebook over the past 24 hours.

I’m in a Facebook group called “Exploring Virginia”. It’s mainly a “feel good” group in which people share beautiful photos and memories of Virginia. I spent most of my childhood and a good portion of my young adult life in Virginia. It’s my home. I was born there, and both sides of my family of origin have been there for generations. I spent my childhood riding horses, and since my discipline was “hunt seat”, that means I went on the occasional fox hunt. Virginia, being one of the original British colonies, does have a lot of traditions that are British. Some people are continuing those old traditions, even if they seem wrong now.

Yesterday, someone shared a photo from a fox hunt in Middleburg, Virginia. Middleburg is horse country. I never lived in Middleburg, but I do know that’s where a lot of really stellar hunter jumpers are born and bred. So, it stands to reason that there would be fox hunts in Middleburg. I thought it was nice that someone shared a photo from a hunt, and posted:

“I used to go on fox hunts in my youth… Was a lot of fun!”

I haven’t been fox hunting since, oh, around 1986 or so… at that time, fox hunts weren’t necessarily considered politically incorrect. They were even still legal in the United Kingdom, which banned them in 2004, because they are considered “cruel” . Fox hunting is still permitted in Northern Ireland. I believe they are still popular in Ireland, too, based on the YouTube videos I’ve seen. Anyway, it’s been many years since I last partook of that sport. In fact, I haven’t even been riding since the mid 90s, and riding used to be a huge part of my life. Seeing that fox hunting photo brought back good memories of when I spent most of my free time with my horse.

Most follow up comments to mine were friendly. Several other people also wrote that they used to enjoy fox hunting. Others just expressed appreciation for the photo, which again, wasn’t my photo. But then, this morning, I got a comment from someone who felt the need to single me out, and shame me, for fondly remembering my fox hunting days. She wrote, in direct response to my comment that hunting was fun, “not for the fox.”

I decided to reply to her, which I think I managed to do in a somewhat measured tone. I wrote:

“In all of the years that I hunted, I never saw any killing. We mostly chased deer, who also weren’t killed. Think trail ride while wearing fancy riding clothes. I think I saw one fox in all the times we hunted. We all said “tallyho”, and that was it.”

I understand that fox hunting is no longer considered “politically correct”, because many people consider it to be cruel. However, when I went fox hunting, I was a child growing up in rural Gloucester, Virginia, where my classmates would routinely bring rifles on school grounds so they could go hunting after school. That’s how things were in the 80s, and it was normal for me, and my classmates. Maybe fox hunting wouldn’t be considered “right” by some people today, but when I was a young horsewoman, it was perfectly fine, and part of taking riding lessons. I also competed in horse shows and went on competitive trail rides. Doing all of that helped keep me physically fit, taught me responsibility, and sportsmanship. It also kept me occupied and out of trouble. Moreover, hunting– of all kinds– was part of the culture in Gloucester.

In fact, when I was in middle school, I remember having to take a hunter safety course as part of our health and P.E. curriculum. Teachers actually taught us about how to safely handle firearms, even though I have never actually owned a weapon. Enough people in my community had guns, that the school board felt it was a good idea to teach school kids about gun safety. In light of all the gun violence in schools today, maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea. Should I be ashamed that I took a hunter safety course, too? I don’t remember having a choice in the matter.

Anyway, the actual kind of fox hunting we did was more of a ceremonial thing. It genuinely was fun, on the mornings when it wasn’t absolutely frigid outside. It basically boiled down to people putting on breeches, long johns, black boots, turtlenecks, and coats, and riding through the woods on fall mornings. After a few spirited canters through the woods, and a few jumps over ditches, fallen tree trunks, and fences that were put up by the hunt club, the adults would pass around a flask of Jack Daniels. It seemed to be more about camaraderie than a bloody sport involving wild animals being torn apart by dogs. I never once saw that happen, but even if I did, it’s not as if people weren’t also using their guns to kill wild animals in those days, and now.

While I probably wouldn’t choose to go fox hunting now, I don’t feel offended when I see a picture of a man in hunting attire on horseback with his dogs. Hunting serves a practical purpose. Some people get their meat that way, and actually hunt because that’s partly how they feed their families. Many people are going to choose to eat meat, no matter what animal rights activists say about it.

I don’t think I should be shamed because I once enjoyed fox hunting, especially since I was a kid at the time, and nothing was ever actually killed. What’s the point of shaming someone for something like that, other than trying to make them feel like shit? I can’t change the fact that I used to fox hunt and mostly enjoyed it. It was part of growing up in rural Virginia around horses. Given that Exploring Virginia is supposed to be a “feel good” group, I think that lady’s comment was out of place. As I was writing this, some other lady gave me a “sad” reaction. Seriously? I decided to just delete my comment, because I don’t want to spend my Friday being annoyed by shamers. I’m sure that reaction was not what the group creators had in mind when they started their group.

For more reading about fox hunting in Virginia, here’s an excellent blog post by someone who describes exactly what I remember from my “hunting days”.

Cue the judgmental responses from the vegan crowd…

I’m not the only one who’s gotten shamed, though. Singer-songwriter Janis Ian shared the featured photo yesterday. Janis Ian regularly posts things that get people riled up and snarky. I like her music, and often agree with her views. She can be funny, too. But I rarely comment on her posts, mainly because I’ve noticed that she can get quite testy in responses to people and, at times, she’s a bit hypocritical. On the other hand, some of her fans are pretty obnoxious. One person commented,

“Yes! I didn’t realise that you are a vegan!”

To which Janis posted, “I’m not.”

The post then became inundated with comments from a preachy vegan who shamed those who enjoy eating meat. There were also a couple of comments about people who feed their cats a vegan diet, which I think is a cruel practice. Cats are true carnivores, and they shouldn’t be forced to be vegans because some humans think hunting is cruel. Even the ASPCA agrees. Cats hunt. It’s in their nature. No matter how many human beings think killing and eating animals is cruel, there will always be creatures who kill their food. It’s part of life.

That being said, I totally agree that factory farming is horrible, and too many of us eat way too much meat. But a holier than thou exchange on Facebook with a complete stranger about veganism isn’t going to make me change my diet, nor do I think the complete stranger really cares. I think it’s more about them feeling superior and more “evolved” than other people.

Personally, I truly admire vegans, but I don’t think I could be a vegan. I might be able to be a vegetarian, if I really desired to make that change. But I will tell you one thing… being preachy and judgmental is not going to make me want to join the vegan cause.

When it comes to animal rights, there are varying degrees on what some people think should be reality. Some animal rights activists, for instance, don’t think humans should even have pets. I’d love to know what they think we should do with all of the dogs and cats and horses who depend on their relationships with humans for their survival. You can’t tell me that my dogs don’t love Bill and me, either. I refuse to feel guilty and ashamed for loving my pets, who also eat meat.

I guess what it comes down to is that everybody has an opinion. In a just world, people would respect other people’s rights to express their opinions without resorting to shaming or climbing up on a moral high horse.

And finally…

Yesterday, I got shamed for “not being fertile”. Some guy in a discussion about abortion commented that he thinks that since half of a developing fetus’s DNA belongs to the father, the father should be allowed to force the mother to gestate. It’s as if this guy thinks of the fetus as his property, even though it’s not developing in his body.

I wrote that it’s too bad that MALES aren’t the ones whose health and life are on the line. And the guy responded by saying “most men prefer women who are fertile.” That struck me as a totally stupid comment. I actually laughed out loud. I considered offering a snarky rebuttal, but then decided that the guy’s comment was so incredibly dumb that it was better to block him. I don’t want to have anything to do with an asshole like that. πŸ˜‰

But seriously… on so many levels, that comment was very offensive. First off, how does he know about my fertility, or lack thereof? I don’t look old in my photo. Secondly, why is he speaking for all men? And thirdly, it’s those kinds of misogynistic comments that make a lot of women not want to have anything to do with men. I can totally understand why my cousin decided to conceive using donor sperm, rather than being involved with a man. For one thing, she’s a lesbian. For another, so many men are just assholes. I truly hope that no fertile woman lets that dude get within fifty yards of her vagina.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I need to get off of Facebook.

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communication, complaints, rants

It’s possible to be outraged about more than one thing at a time…

I’m getting a bit of a late start this morning. Those new Comphy sheets I got on Monday are the BOMB. I didn’t think it would be possible for me to like them more than the first set I bought in 2015, but I definitely do. For one thing, I love the fact that they’re navy blue instead of pukey green. For another, they just feel better on many levels. They fit the bed better– the old ones were too big, supposedly to account for pillow top mattresses– and the texture is soft and smooth, but not too silky. I don’t know… they’re just nicer. And for what I paid for them, they really ought to be! Even Bill, who doesn’t care about comfort as much as I do, has commented that he loves them and they help him sleep better.

Anyway, those new sheets were inviting today, since our previously beautiful weather of last week and Monday has vanished. Today, it’s cold and rainy. After breakfast, instead of going to my computer to write, I went back to bed, watched a couple of videos, and started reading my latest book, which made me feel drowsy. So I put the book down and dozed a bit. And now, it’s 9:30am, and I’m finally writing something fresh.

I put up four reposts yesterday, which wasn’t my plan. I had put up one post from the original blog because I was still ruminating on what to write about yesterday. Then I noticed a couple of posts that were kind of important when I initially posted them in 2013 and 2014, and I realized that they were evergreen enough to go up as reposts. And in one of those posts was an old book review, which I like to preserve when I can. By the time I was done reposting and editing, I had spent a couple of hours, and I didn’t figure anyone would be looking for fresh content. Or maybe I just didn’t feel like writing it.

Later yesterday afternoon, I noticed a Facebook friend had posted a “peevish” status update, which appears below:

No disrespect to the person who posted this, but it’s entirely possible for people to be “in a stew” about more than one thing at a time. And quite frankly, I don’t need to be encouraged.

I am mentioning the above post today because I’ve seen similar sentiments from other people about how some people’s priorities are askew. Some people are passively calling out others because we’re discussing incidents like Will Smith’s choice to hit Chris Rock at the Oscars, instead of other issues they think are more important. It occurred to me that I’m a relatively complex person. I can think about more than one issue at a time. I can discuss more than one issue at a time. Though I have both of these abilities, I should be allowed to discuss what I want to without someone else calling me out over it. There’s nothing to say that you have to participate in a discussion about Will Smith’s slap if you don’t want to do that. And there’s nothing to say that I can’t discuss it with those who are interested.

I mention myself in this post, but I don’t think the people complaining about “messed up priorities” were necessarily calling me out specifically. I guess I just want to address how reading those statuses made me feel. It’s yet another weird aspect of our current online obsessed/social media engaged society that baffles me. How is it that we feel the need to chastise our friends, loved ones, colleagues, acquaintances, and perfect strangers about their priorities? What makes us feel like we have the right to criticize others about what they feel like discussing? Especially when they’re doing it on their own spaces? We always have the choice to engage or not, right?

It occurs to me that I am not the type of person who needs to be “encouraged” to be in a stew about anything. I am a card carrying member of the “Easily Pissed Club”. Last week, I was pissed off at USAA… and by the way, I’m still waiting for my new debit card, which they reminded me to activate a couple of days ago. It hasn’t arrived yet, cuz APO sucks. I’m still pissed at PenFed, because I tried twice to open a new checking account with them and couldn’t because of an “error” in their system. Twice, they said they would look into it and contact me again. They haven’t, so I’ve given up on that. Navy Federal took five days to tell Bill that his eligibility documents were too blurry, so we’re still waiting for them to approve him as a member, so I can also join. These are just “stew-worthy” events from my personal life involving my finances.

Then there’s the whole ongoing COVID drama, which Germany refuses to let up on. We were supposed to have “Freedom Day” on March 20, but most of the states opted to continue the ridiculous restrictions until April 2. And now, some city officials are saying they’re going to declare cities “hotspots” so they can continue the restrictions– FFP2 masks required everywhere, social distancing, vaccination checks, and tests. Yesterday, I read an editorial in The Local Germany written by a guy who had gone to Sweden and anticipated coming back to Germany after our so-called non-existent “Freedom Day”. In Sweden, all of the COVID shit has been dropped and, guess what… Sweden’s COVID numbers are supposedly not that different than Germany’s are.

The heavier masks and vaccination checks aren’t stopping the spread of the virus, and they’re keeping Germans and the rest of us who live here in a never ending psychological morass of fear and doom. While countries all around us are dispensing with COVID rules, Germany stubbornly clings to them. Meanwhile, those of us who are fed up with the onerous rules are going to those other countries for our vacations and, perhaps, picking up the virus there. Or we’re staying here and getting the virus, in spite of the fucking heavy masks, which most people don’t bother to wear properly, anyway.

A guy we buy wine from has been trying to convince us to go to Italy at the end of April. We probably won’t do it because of COVID and the annoying COVID rules that would make such an excursion less likely to be fun. Italy has relaxed a lot of rules, but thanks to the psychological trauma that has occurred over the past two years, I’m just not ready to plunge in yet. I think COVID is here to stay, and our best bet is to get vaccinated, take reasonable precautions, and live our lives. The endless restrictions are not effective and no longer make sense. And they take a lot of joy out of living, too. See? I can be in a “stew” about that, too. I’m sure a lot of people– the guy who inspired this post included– would give me shit about my complaints about COVID. But I mention them, only because he apparently has a problem with people who are discussing Will Smith’s altercation with Chris Rock.

And finally, there’s the war in Ukraine, which of course is a terrible situation. I have never been to Ukraine, but I would have liked the opportunity to visit at some point. I have been inspired and enchanted by the stories of courage that have come out since Putin’s invasion. I also know people who are personally touched by the war in Ukraine. I absolutely feel for the people there. But my talking and posting about it isn’t going to change anything. There’s not a lot I can do about Ukraine, except donate money and items like clothing and shoes for those who have been made refugees. I have already donated some clothes and have made a point of buying Ukrainian products when I can. And I can continue to hear the stories about the war and the people who are affected by it. I can do that, and still have an opinion about Will Smith and Chris Rock. Not posting about Ukraine 24/7 doesn’t make me a morally deficient person whose priorities are lacking.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty goddamned sick and tired of people shaming others all the time. I especially think it’s out of place on Facebook, which is supposed to be a place where people connect. Wasn’t it originally supposed to be a fun activity, reconnecting with old friends and keeping in touch with relatives and such? When did people decide Facebook was the place to try to make other people feel like shit for not having the right “priorities”? Maybe the guy who inspired today’s post didn’t intend to make me feel “bad”– and even if it was his intent to do that, he didn’t succeed anyway. But the tone of that post is pretty shaming, in my opinion. Who put him in charge of policing other people’s reactions to current events?

I think it’s okay for people to have different priorities. Wouldn’t the world be a very boring place if we all talked about the same things? Isn’t it better that we have differing opinions? Can’t we learn from each other by discussing things in a civilized way? I know I’ve learned new things from having respectful conversations with other people. But honestly, most of us don’t need another reason to feel bad.

I also don’t think it’s wrong to have a discussion about what happened at the Oscars. There are even a number of angles that can be explored. For instance, one of my friends thinks it’s possible that Will Smith might have been under the influence of something when he reacted to Chris Rock’s lame joke. She also thinks it’s possible Jada Pinkett Smith might have even instigated Smith’s violent reaction. I don’t know anything about the Smiths’ relationship, but I do know that Will Smith’s choice to hit Chris Rock cast a real pall over what should have been a positive and family friendly event. It wasn’t until yesterday that I heard about how Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli had a touching moment. Wouldn’t it have been nice if we could have heard about that as much as we did about Will Smith and Chris Rock? Isn’t it worth discussing that? As long as it’s all civilized, anyway…

Just re-reading my title for this post, I suppose I could just mention that I think it’s possible to suffer from “outrage overload”. I don’t need to be encouraged to be more outraged. I can handle that condition pretty easily on my own, thanks. And I don’t need more stress or worry in my life. I don’t need more shame, either. I think that’s true for a lot of us. I will continue to expect the worst and hope for the best. A little bit of fun, joy, and lively discussion is what keeps life worth living.

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communication, complaints, condescending twatbags, language, rants, religion

Oh my God, how OBNOXIOUS!

The featured photo is of a t-shirt offered on Amazon.com. I probably ought to order it for the warmer days that are rapidly approaching.

I hope everybody had a nice Valentine’s Day. Mine was pretty quiet. Thanks to COVID-19, and the general doldrums that have come about because of that, plus Bill’s busy status at work, the crappy weather, and just the fact that I’m getting older and more crotchety, Valentine’s Day was pretty low key. I didn’t even write any fresh content yesterday, even though I had a couple of topics in mind. I just wasn’t in the mood.

But anyway, Bill delivered. I got a beautiful bouquet of roses and one of Bill’s trademark mushy cards. My Amazon.com orders came in, and I got two new box sets of forgotten 70s and 80s era shows I loved as a kid. And, glory of glories, I also got new underwear! Unfortunately, they are not made of my preferred combed cotton knit, but of some kind of yucky “super soft” material. It’s probably modal, or something like that. I have had them before, and didn’t like them… and I guess I failed to realize I had ordered them again. Oh well. At least they aren’t stained yet.

Bill is home today, because he’s taking three classes from the Jung Institute in Zurich. Originally, our plan was to go to Switzerland so he could attend in person, but COVID-19 fucked that up, too. Ironically, even Germany is talking about loosening restrictions very soon– like, next week, “loosening” is supposed to commence. But I doubt that will mean the same to most Americans as it does to me.

The fucking face masks will still be required… the heavier, “coffee filter” ones, that I absolutely loathe, which haven’t actually stopped the spread of the virus. Yeah, I know this makes me sound like an “anti-masker”, which maybe I am on some level. I am an anti-masker in the sense that I want them to eventually go away. I recognize their utility in crowds, when the virus is running amok and there are no vaccines. But it’s been almost two years, and we’re all so tired. When Germany says it will “loosen” restrictions, that means that they’ll stop with the 2G+ nonsense… meaning to go into a business or restaurant, one must be fully vaccinated AND tested or boosted. Or the even more ridiculous 2G++ requirement– vaxxed, boosted, and tested. And they’ll let more people visit each other or be indoors. They’re just doing this because spring is coming, and they want people to spend money. As far as I’m concerned, if I have to wear a coffee filter, I’d rather stay home, or go to a place where I don’t have to wear a coffee filter. Which brings me to my next topic…

Apologies to the person on my friends list who posted the below photo if s/he finds my upcoming comments offensive or shaming. I honestly feel the need to discuss this… because again, how obnoxious…

I saw this yesterday and had to scratch my head a bit. Besides the apostrophe abuse, the message is just fucked up.

I’m about 100 percent sure the person who shared the above photo meant well. It was probably meant to inspire thought… or maybe a sense of shame. I don’t know. I would expect that the people who saw this were friends, and I would hope the person’s friends weren’t the type of people who would need to be reminded to be ashamed about the horrors of the Jim Crow era. I don’t think this photo quite sends a logical message.

Let’s stop and think about the two situations being compared for just a minute. In one situation, a person encounters a “masks only” sign. That means he or she must either put on a mask to enter an establishment, or go home and order online. That sign has nothing to do with anything beyond the person’s control. It’s a matter of choice. Wear a mask and do your business, or go home and order online. Simple, right?

The other situation involves people being excluded simply because they have dark skin. That’s something beyond their control. The people in that photo can’t just go home and change skins or order online. What’s more, having dark skin isn’t like spreading a contagious and potentially deadly disease. Being a person of color isn’t contagious, nor would I say it’s a negative thing. It just is. By contrast, nobody sane wants to catch COVID-19.

Looking at the meme again, I also think that the comparisons are kind of like apples and oranges in terms of the “victims”. I mean, most “woke” people routinely condemn the so called “obnoxious” anti-maskers among us, right? They say things like, “It’s just a strip of cloth.” or “It’s no big deal.” or “Just get with the program so we can get beyond the pandemic.” And when anti-maskers or anti-vaxxers happen to fall ill with COVID-19, the pro-face mask crusaders then have a good laugh. Some of them really yuk it up when some of those people end up dying due to their ignorance and stubbornness, as they self-righteously continue with their preaching about showing compassion and consideration during the COVID-19 era.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am fully onboard with vaccines. I will even admit that masks are a good idea in crowds, when the virus is especially deadly, there are no effective treatments, and people aren’t vaccinated. I just want the masks to go away someday. I dream of a day when we can be in public again and not have to deal with annoying rules. And until that day comes, I’ll probably just mostly stay home and order things online. I’m not going to protest or get into a fight with someone over wearing a mask. I probably just won’t do business with them in person, if I can help it. That’s my choice. I don’t mind making that choice, and I’m sure the people in public life are fine with me not being around them. They won’t even know the difference. Because seriously… how obnoxious! I know I am, so I will spare everyone.

But when it comes to the other part of the meme– the part where we’re asked to consider how people of color felt when they encountered a “whites only” sign, I just don’t think that quite compares to being asked to put on a mask. Most decent people roundly condemn the Jim Crow laws. A “whites only” sign would be very offensive to them. The same group of people would probably not be offended by a “masks only” sign. Get it?

Apparently, a lot of people didn’t think about this photo for as long as I did, since it went viral. But when I clicked on the photo my friend shared, it took me to the original post. There was a lively discussion going on, with many people who could see the same issue with it that I see. These two situations simply don’t compare. One person commented that this meme was one of the stupidest things she’d ever seen. I wouldn’t be quite that harsh. I think the person who made it probably meant well. I just wish he or she had given it a bit more thought, just as I wish those who are sharing it, presumably with their friends, would consider it a little more.

How is that photo supposed to make your friends feel? Is it your intent to shame your friends? Because, honestly, that’s how I felt when I saw it. And then I felt pretty annoyed. Don’t we have enough to be concerned about these days without conflating two such serious issues that don’t really measure up to each other? Is it really anyone’s intentions to offend their friends on social media? I do hate the face masks and I chomp at the bit for the day when we can ditch them. But I don’t think being asked to wear a mask in order to slow down a contagious disease compares, in any way, with the horrors of the Jim Crow laws. They are totally different concepts.

I suspect the photo was intended to shame anti-maskers by reminding them of how horrible and difficult it’s been for truly oppressed people. I think it really misses the mark, though, and oversimplifies things. I would hope that your friends don’t really need this kind of shaming.

I’m getting pretty tired of people on social media using it as a means of being sanctimonious to other people, anyway. I know a lot of people do it. They like getting on a soap box, and social media makes it easy and relatively safe to do so. It’s still very annoying, though, and probably not that effective, especially toward friends. Or, at least, that’s my take. All it does is spread unnecessary negativity. In fact, I find the practice highly obnoxious. πŸ˜‰

Moving on to another obnoxious topic. That would be Paula White, televangelist extraordinaire. The other day, James of Fundie Fridays did an excellent video about her. I think Paula White is extremely obnoxious. I thought so when I first discovered her on TBN back in 2003 or so. I used to watch her show for fun, because I found her so incredibly over-the-top. But then she became our most obnoxious former president’s “spiritual advisor”, which gave her an even bigger platform. And she really showed us the crazy, didn’t she?

If you are at all interested in Paula White and her crazy story, you should watch James’s video. My only criticism of the video is that James went on a little bit longer than he probably needed to; and he used a few too many Journey references, since Paula is currently married to Jonathan Cain, who plays keyboards for Journey. But overall, I think he did an excellent job of exposing the crazy shit that spews from Paula White’s collagen plumped lips. Bravo, James!

Good gawd. How obnoxious!!!

I probably would have written a whole post devoted to the above Paula White dedicated video, especially since I know that James and Jen of Fundie Fridays have become very popular and, hey, I like to ride on the coattails of other people’s successes when I can, right? Because I am obnoxious that way… I have noticed that people hit this blog because I’ve written about Fundie Fridays. So it’s not a bad thing when I mention that channel, because it’s a win/win. It exposes new people to their content, and possibly mine, too. I don’t aim to be as popular as they are, but it’s not a bad thing to get some ad revenue. Maybe enough to buy beer? That would be nice.

In the interest of not pulling a “James”, I’m gonna wrap this up and do some guitar practice. Sorry to be so obnoxious this morning. Noyzi put that theme in my head, as he was galloping through the house like a freak as Bill prepared to walk him and Arran. As he came whizzing past us in his joy, I said, “Oh my God! How OBNOXIOUS!” I love the word “obnoxious”. It’s a word that people have used to describe me since the day I was born. I might as well own my obnoxiousness with this obnoxious post. I don’t enjoy offending people, and I’m truly sorry that some people think I’m obstreperous. That’s another reason I stay home. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, hope y’all have a good day. And if my friend finds my commentary on the above meme obnoxious, I do apologize. But, if I’m honest, I really think the meme really gets it wrong and, to be frank, I was a bit offended by it, and felt the need to vent. So, I’m sorry if I offend, but not sorry that I wrote on this topic. I hope we can still be friends. πŸ™‚

And just to be even more obnoxious, below is a link to Amazon, where you can purchase the t-shirt… and I will get a small commission from Amazon, if you do. See? Another win/win.

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lessons learned, musings, narcissists

“Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth…”

Special thanks to singer-songwriter Facebooker extraordinaire, Janis Ian, who posted today’s featured photo on her Facebook page a day ago. I follow Janis Ian, but I’m not one to watch her obsessively. I think she’s often funny and thoughtful, but sometimes she’s a little too “woke” for my tastes. I know that comment might annoy some people. I know some people really think it’s cool to be super “woke”. I’m not there yet. I will probably never be there. I am definitely more left leaning than I once was, but I’m never going to be one of those people who is trying to be an “example” to others. Hell, I have enough trouble simply accepting myself as I am.

I do, however, see a lot of wisdom in Janis Ian’s recent “quote of the day” from an unknown source. There have been many times in my life when I’ve been left feeling terrible because of a regrettable exchange with someone. There have been times when I’ve said or done something that has upset or offended someone and have felt terrible about it forever. When that happens, I will self-flagellate, feeling like total shit, and withdraw from others. I think some people get the mistaken impression that I’m being a snob or that I feel like I’m “above” them in some way. That’s really not true at all. I just don’t like to feel like I annoy people. I feel like it’s better to stay home. This COVID-19 lifestyle, in some ways, is a good thing for me. I have a good excuse not to mingle.

From the time when I was a small child, I’ve gotten the message from important people that I wasn’t acceptable or “good”. Now… it IS true that some people love me for exactly who I am. Bill is one of those people. He doesn’t find me annoying at all. He never criticizes my laugh. He doesn’t tell me to lose weight or put on makeup. He doesn’t grouse about the fine layer of dust on the furniture or the fact that I can’t be arsed to get out of my nightgown if I’m not leaving the house. Instead, he’s kind and loving, and he never makes me feel like I’m worthless.

But even though my husband loves me for who I am and that makes me feel good, sometimes I do have trouble with my self-worth. I’ll give you a ridiculous “for instance”. Those of you who have been following me for awhile may know that Bill and I had some real trouble with a previous landlady. This lady seemed to have a real problem with me. She clearly didn’t like me, and seemed to judge me negatively for my lifestyle.

At first, her criticisms were couched in pleasantries and niceties. But, as time went on, she became more hostile and negative. I started to feel badly about myself. I remember feeling anxious, living in her house, as she would come over and I would watch her face as she took in the “appearance” of our house. It’s true, I am not an obsessive housekeeper, but I’m certainly not a filthy person. I don’t spend all of my free time polishing glassware, wiping down baseboards, or using a microfiber dust rag to clean the dust between the pipes on the towel warmer or heaters. I just can’t be bothered to be that detailed. It’s not worth my time. But I do empty the garbage, wipe down the counters, clean the toilets and shower, wash dishes, and do laundry. And I do vacuum, clean up the dog shit, and do other chores as needed.

However, she’s the type of person who would do those extremely anal retentive cleaning chores on a regular basis. I would see her expression darken when she noticed a pile of leaves that was left unswept. One time, I watched her aggressively shovel snow off the driveway. I had made a walkway for the postman, which was what was required, but since I wasn’t going anywhere and was feeling sick, I put off shoveling the whole thing. She came over, unannounced as usual, and got visibly pissed that I hadn’t done the whole driveway. I could feel her radiating disapproval. Naturally, that made me feel bad, because I don’t like to disappoint people. I resolved to make sure the driveway was perfectly shoveled after other snowstorms, even if I was sick.

Another time, she read me the “riot act” when she saw a “dust bunny” consisting of Arran’s hair that was caught in the doorway. She yelled at me that the hair was “encrusted”. Of course it wasn’t, and it took maybe two seconds to wipe it up. I hadn’t noticed it because it really was insignificant, but she saw it and freaked out. Then she screamed at me about it, and even mentioned it in an email to Bill. She asked him at one time if we’d like her to find us a housekeeper, nastily adding “Don’t you want to live in a clean house?”

Wow… I’ll tell you what. The very LAST thing I would want is to hire a housekeeper that she found for us. Especially since it later became very clear that she wasn’t respecting our privacy. Aside from that, she wasn’t living in the house, so I didn’t feel that I needed to keep the house cleaned to her standards. Especially since we were paying her too much for the “privilege” to live there. And also, the house wasn’t that clean when we moved in, but then she and former tenant were “buddies”. I guess she got a pass.

Now, a lot of people might tell me that I should just ignore those comments, but I genuinely felt bad when she’d send Bill emails about my deficiencies as a housekeeper. I felt terrible and, at first, very ashamed, when she would yell at me for things that she felt weren’t “up to snuff”. I didn’t know what her standards were when we moved in. If I had known, we certainly would not have taken that house.

But, at least at first, I really tried to do things more to her standards. I dutifully cleaned the white plastic panels on the new doors she’d had installed. They were exposed to the elements and doomed to become discolored at some point, but I knew she wanted them to look nice, even if no one would care about that but her. She asked me more than once to clean them off regularly, so I did. I would attempt to clean the windows in the living room, so she wouldn’t freak out about the nose prints left by our dogs. I would try to be presentable, at least when I knew she was coming. And I tried to be cordial. For a long time, I was as pleasant as I could be, even when she inconvenienced me by showing up randomly or was intrusive.

One day, she reached the end of my patience by screaming at me in the living room about an awning that had collapsed on my watch. It was seventeen years old. I had pointed it out to her that the thing was leaning. She had her husband “fix” it. It appeared to be repaired, so I used it a few times after he did the work. On one very hot day, a gust of wind blew, and the awning collapsed.

Fortunately, I was not sitting under the awning when it collapsed, although ex landlady claimed that the fact that I wasn’t sitting under it was a sign of my “gross negligence”. She immediately blamed me, and yelled at me in my own home, not just for the awning that she failed to have properly repaired, but also for the fact that one of the electric rolladens was not properly installed and would not go down. She claimed it wasn’t working properly because I didn’t use it often enough, even though a repairman later said it wasn’t installed correctly. She had no thought at all for the fact that I could have been seriously injured or perhaps even killed if that seventeen year old awning that she hadn’t fixed properly had fallen on my head. Instead, I was the one who was “negligent” for using a supposedly “fixed” awning on a hot day and not being able to predict the wind.

It may be hard to believe, but I did feel bad that the awning fell on my watch. I knew money was an object for the landlords. I was sensitive to their not wanting to spend money. I didn’t object when she had her husband fix it instead of a real repairman. But I was not willing to accept the claim of negligence when I used something that was part of the house on a hot day, as she and her husband had actually said was appropriate use. All I did was unroll it. I wasn’t hanging on it or playing on it or anything like that. And sorry, I can’t predict the wind. I don’t think I’m “negligent” for not being under the awning when it suddenly fell. I think I am damned LUCKY. So is she.

After that exchange, Bill asked her not to speak to me about her concerns. That seemed to piss her off even more, since apparently I made for a convenient scapegoat for her frustrations. But she did leave me alone, for the most part, probably because she could tell I was frighteningly close to losing my shit the last time she yelled at me. I think she could also tell that I could easily match her in intensity and nastiness, if I was really pushed to go there.

It may seem hard to believe, but I genuinely felt terrible when things went wrong. By the time I left that house, I really felt pretty awful. She had done a good job making me feel “guilty” about how “terrible” I am. Even though I was LIVID by the way she treated Bill and me– especially me— the truth is, her comments made me feel bad about myself. I wondered if she was right that I’m a shitty housekeeper and a lazy, worthless person. She didn’t actually say those words to me, and yet that was the message I got– repeatedly.

It took weeks in our current home before I finally felt comfortable. I was anxious for so long, expecting her to come over and complain about some aspect of my housekeeping that displeased her. I knew that she was not our landlady anymore, but yet I expected our new landlord to be like her. I dreaded talking to him because of her. She did real psychological damage to both of us. She falsely accused us of theft and trashing her house, and when Bill asked for a fair accounting of why she was keeping most of our security deposit, she became hostile, nasty, and really laid on the shame and guilt in an attempt to get him to back off. It was absolutely infuriating, especially since Bill is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, and is generous, respectful, and fair to a fault!

I think of so many people whose homes I’ve been in that were genuinely dirty and cluttered far worse than mine ever was. I think of all of the people I know who would have blown up with profanities at ex landlady the first time she yelled at them. I think of the people who would think nothing of paying rent late, or not at all. And then I think to myself… “I’m the worst tenant she’s ever had? Really? She’s been lucky.” Karma will fix that.

What she was doing was egregious bullshit… and I can’t help but wonder if we’d been less “nice” and “kind” about her blatantly disrespectful behavior, maybe she might not have so blatantly tried to take advantage of Bill’s good nature. Like, maybe if I’d given into the instinct to yell back at her, she might have not been so totally horrible to us, and we might not have had to sue her. Even after a settlement was reached, it still took months and a nastygram from our lawyer before she finally gave us our money.

But we were both trained to accept abuse. I have a much lower threshold than Bill does, but I still have the capacity to overlook bad behavior in the interest of keeping the peace. Maybe that’s not a good policy. I have already told Bill that I don’t ever intend to tolerate that kind of living situation again, but the truth is, sometimes you kind of have to… a lot depends on money, doesn’t it?

Now I am mostly recovered from that experience, aside from some residual anger. There are scars, of course, and I think it’s a pretty fair bet that I won’t be forgetting her. But I realize now that her apparently very negative opinions of me don’t necessarily reflect reality, nor do they apply to how others see me. No matter what, I have basic worth, just as everyone does. Even the worst people in the world usually have at least one person in their lives who love them on some level. And that is as true for me as it is for most people.

There have been other instances in my life where I have left a situation feeling awful about myself. I recently wrote about ghosts of traumatic Christmases past. One of the reasons I swore them off is because so many of them left me feeling horrible. I had to detox from the toxicity for days or weeks, ruminating about the dramas that would erupt among so-called loved ones. All I ever wanted was to live in peace, on my own terms, and as my authentic self. If other people can’t stand me, so be it. But so many people want to change their friends and loved ones, not recognizing their worth and uniqueness. If one has a conscience or any sense of shame, this can be devastating to one’s self-esteem and self-image.

I think this is a skill that is essential for living, learning to accept oneself for being a unique person and having basic worth. But, as we’ve seen, especially since the pandemic started, people are really BIG on judging and shaming others. Judging and shaming people, lecturing them, and not trying to empathize with them is a great way to alienate them and cause them to be even more entrenched in their beliefs. A lot of the judging behavior comes from frustration, of course. In terms of the pandemic, we’re all tired of hearing about sickness and death, being subjected to restrictions, rules, and talk of overwhelmed healthcare facilities. Many people are truly frightened, especially those who have lost loved ones and friends to the sickness.

I’ve read so many comments from people who say that they have no more empathy. They have no more patience. And when someone dies of COVID, especially if they were unvaccinated, some of them even LAUGH about it. I guess I can understand why people feel like that and act that way, but I don’t think that attitude does anything to change behavior or inspire cooperation. People tend to focus more on their egos and injured pride than the frustration and despair that drives some of the more judgmental behaviors. I’m as guilty of that as a lot of people are, although I try not to be that way. I just don’t think it helps. We’re all human, though…

I’m even sure that, on some level, our former landlady believed the lies she told herself. Or maybe, from her perspective, we really are filthy, dishonest, thieving, unhygienic people who don’t respect other people’s property. But no one else has ever said that about us. And our current landlord has cheerfully told us we’re welcome to stay as long as we want. That’s a nice vote of confidence.

I felt good yesterday when I fixed the faucet in the downstairs bathroom all by myself. It was easy to do. But as I was doing the work– descaling the tap with white vinegar and removing the calcium buildup that had blocked the spigot– I couldn’t help but think of the way the landlady made comments that were intended to make me feel small, negligent, and incompetent. I know that they weren’t a reflection of reality. It was gaslighting, intended to make me more inclined to accept her abuse and her assessment of me and my “shortcomings”.

Fortunately, I’ve already been through therapy. πŸ˜‰ It’s hard to believe we paid over $2000 a month for that treatment from the former landlady. We should have “fired” her after the first year. Life is short. Lesson learned.

Quote Investigator says that Twitter user debihope apparently constructed this popular quote, which has been falsely attributed to Sigmund Freud and William Gibson, among others.

So… if you take anything valuable from today’s post, I hope it includes the idea that other people’s apparent negative views of you might not be rooted in reality. In fact, they may be their attempts to train you to accept their abuse. Take their comments and opinions for what they’re worth… definitely with a grain of salt. Do what you can to protect yourself, and protect your sense of self-worth. After all, as Janis Ian shares in an unattributed quote, “Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth…” Wise words indeed. Don’t forget them.

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